“It takes many good deeds to build a good reputation and only one bad one to lose it,”Benjamin Franklin
How’s your reputation?
What do people think about you and your company?
Do you think they say the same things to your face as they say behind your back?
We all have personal and professional reputations and that includes your business. The mere mention of your company name will evoke feelings (good or bad) with anyone who has ever come into contact with your business.
Would you buy anything from someone with a bad reputation?
Where does our reputation come from?
We don’t create our own reputation although our actions, the way we look and our personalities will contribute to the one we have.
Reputation is how we are perceived by those we come into contact with. Businesses are judged in exactly the same way and the physical aspect is determined by our company branding.
People will base their opinion on whatever contact they have had with you and your business – however great or small the level of contact.
Every time a customer, potential customer or supplier has any form of contact with you or your company, it will leave an impression which will contribute to your overall reputation with that person.
- Meeting you or a representative of your business – do you come across as polite, knowledgeable and friendly? Or scruffy, grumpy and disinterested?
- Using your products or services – do customer believe they are getting quality products and value for money? Did you fail to meet any deadlines or budget constraints?
- Being handed your business card – does it make your business look professional and worth using? Is it tatty and cheaply designed and destined for the bin?
- Seeing one of your company vehicles – is it clean, well-maintained, well-driven and professionally sign written? Or is it filthy, tatty and being driven badly?
- Reading reviews from other people – Are they mostly positive or negative?
Let’s start with some honest feedback
Before we get into collecting customer feedback, why don’t you consider these touch-points and ask family and friends for their honest views – are they positive or negative?
For example, if you know your business cards look cheap and nasty and your company branding is tired and old-fashioned, it’s probably time to give your business a spruce up. Does your logo still convey what you do and look smart wherever you use it or does it need bringing up to date?
A professional marketing expert will help you to come up with a fresh new look for your business that explains what you do and leaves people believing you are really good at what you do. Refreshing your company’s branding and stationery doesn’t have to cost a fortune and will make a dramatic impact on the impression you make on people.
Are you aware of your reputation?
If you can’t put your hand on solid proof that your business is highly-regarded by your customers, you need to turn detective and start gathering evidence.
Likewise, if you are unaware of negative comments about your business which are probably being shared, you can’t put things right.
Solid proof will give you the information you need to transform a poor reputation or win even more business by promoting your good reputation.
What feedback do you already have?
Start by looking at all your customer touch-points and reviewing feedback that may already be out there. This includes reviews on trade directory websites, feedback on your company’s Facebook page and hand-written “thank you” letters from satisfied customers.
Your “gut” feeling that your customers think you’re OK is not enough to persuade perfect strangers to hand over their hard-earned cash in return for your products and services.
Even if you’re right and all your customers are happy and satisfied, if you can’t prove it and aren’t shouting about it, potential customers will choose the company who can.
If you don’t ask, you’ll never know
The more positive feedback you can gather and promote, the better your chances of winning new business.
At the end of every job, ask your customers to give you their honest feedback.
Think up a few questions that would give you the insight you need.
You could ask
- How happy are you with the product or service we provided?
- Are you happy with the level of customer service you received?
- Would you use us again and / or recommend us to a friend?
- Where could we improve the products and services we offer?
And finally, don’t forget to ask if they’re happy for you to use the feedback on your website, Facebook page etc.
Using the Feedback
Look for themes. If lots of customers are saying the same positive things, it is obviously something that means a great deal to your customers and sets you apart from the competition in their eyes.
You’d be wise to promote this benefit as one of your USP’s (Unique Selling Points) wherever you can. It could be developed into a strap-line for your business which you can plaster across everything you do alongside your logo. A good marketing expert will help you get the very most from your USP by building it into your brand identity and developing a seamless professional image for your business.
Look for themes. If lots of customers are saying the same negative things, it is obviously something that means a great deal to your customers and sets you apart from the competition in their eyes.
Do you see what I did there?
Be brave and tackle negative feedback head on. What can you do to change this negative perception into a positive experience for your customers?
If people think your employees look scruffy, buy them new uniforms, clearly branded with your company details.
If people think you charge too much for what they receive, find out what your competitors are charging and, if it’s in the same ballpark, you’ll need to dig deeper to identify the perceived lack of value.
This research is essential as you must change this perception if you want to be successful. It doesn’t necessarily mean cutting your prices – it may just mean promoting any enhanced service levels or warranties that you offer and the competition doesn’t.
Gathering customer feedback should be an ongoing process all the time you are trading. You can never have enough and customer perceptions will change often. If you’re monitoring all the feedback you receive, this will allow you to respond quickly to negative comments and shout about the good things people are saying.
Use your good reputation
We are all influenced by the opinions of others – particularly when we’re making our buying decisions.
A good reputation means you’ve got a much better chance of turning potential customers into paying customers, so get working on yours today!
Brandabble is a small, friendly marketing and design company, specialising in helping small and start-up businesses to stand out with affordable, professional and eye-catching company branding, marketing, websites and printed materials.
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